So, it’s the holiday season and as winter pulls the frost up over your window, you might feel inclined to snuggle up with your pen, pad, or laptop (and a snack and a mug of eggnog of course), and start writing! Fiction writers, especially sci-fi and fantasy writers, need a lot of internal motivation to build their amazing worlds and characters. So let’s do it together with Colby’s Christmas Countdown! As you countdown to Christmas Day, here are 25 holiday writing tips to help you along in your fiction journey! You might want to grab a special writing notebook to keep all your exercises in one place, too. By the end, you’ll have months worth of material to launch you into writing your novel series!
Tip #11: World Building, III – The Timeline
So we’ve already started designing and building our world and populating our world with civilizations as well! These are important foundations of an overarching novel series. But yet another part of building a series is knowing the overall history of your world. Just as in real life, human civilization itself has an entire history, which chronicles everything from the development of the first man, to our greatest inventions and achievements, to our bloodiest wars, and to how these things have affected our civilization socially, culturally, politically, and geographically. To have a rich world and storyline, and to have tons of material to draw from for your novel series, your fictional world should have a similar deep history.
So let’s talk about “making history”, and let’s do it by starting a timeline. 🙂
Activity of the (Holi)DAY: Think of 15 major events that have happened in your world. Try to make five of them innovations or breakthroughs, five of them major political conflicts or change, and five of them shifts in popular culture. These 15 major events need to be specific to your fictional world, your rules, and your civilizations.
To organize your timeline, feel free to use index cards, timeline software, or (my personal favorites) Excel or Open Office spreadsheet software. MAJOR HINT: Many things and events in our world have a cause and effect relationship. When a war happens, for example, other smaller events like cultural change, political change, and social change all branch out from that war. For example, World War I had some devastating effects on the countries on the losing side. One of the major and most terrible follow ups to World War I was the Holocaust. On the winning side, however, countries such as the USA were able to rise in power due to the great debts owed them from the war. So think of the causal relationships and how they transform as major events happen in your fictional world.
How I Did It: There’s a lot of fancy timeline software out there, but honestly,Excel is my best friend in timeline building. It’s straight-forward, and the columns and rows allow me to have a really neat timeline that can be searched, scrolled, and organized in whatever way I like. Check out a sneak peek of my timeline for The Books of Ezekiel at the right!
The timeline for The Books of Ezekiel details over 200 years of history for my fictional world and relies HEAVILY on causal relationships. By focusing on ten to twenty major events and milestones that occurred in my world, I was able to build a 200-year timeline around those milestones, based on the cause-effect relationships as well as on certain characters’ own histories and motivations. And that’s another thing. Once you start building personal histories for the characters in your world, their stories and how they interact with larger events will bring a complex and rich perspective to your world and timeline! We’ll talk about creating compelling characters in the near future. Have fun, happy writing, and as always…
Keep it indie,